Family and friends of Josh Binstock have been loyal supporters of the Olympic beach volley baller's journey, following him to London for the 2012 games, and turning out earlier today as Toronto celebrated Canada's Olympic and Paralympic athletes.

Toronto celebrates heroes of London 2012

The families and friends of Canadian Olympians and Paralympians were amongst the crowd of hundreds at the Olympic Heroes Parade at Maple Leaf Square earlier today.

One proud father, Peter Tancredi, looked down York Street with a huge Canadian flag wrapped around himself in anticipation of the arrival of his daughter, Canadian soccer forward and bronze medalist Melissa Tancredi.

“I never felt so proud over having this Canadian flag around my shoulders,” Tancredi said, adding parade was a great way to recognize the years of work put in by the athletes.

“Melissa wanted to be an Olympian since she was eight years old. Then she found out that there was no soccer in the  Olympics for women and she was very upset,” he said. “I told her things are changing all the time so by the time you get there, they’ll be there.”

Although this was Melissa’s second time representing Canada at the Olympics, she said this time was special because of her team’s historic bronze win.

Peter Tancredi says years of hard work have finally paid off for his daughter, Olympic soccer bronze medalist Melissa Tancredi. (Zenaira Ali/Toronto Observer)

“After the final whistle was blown, I dropped to my knees and couldn’t believe it,” she said. “We did something that hasn’t been done since 1936,”

Tancredi said it was a dream come true.

“And when I say it, it isn’t a cliché. It really is a dream come true,” she added. “I wish it was gold, but any medal at the Olympics is incredible.

Tancredi called the atmosphere at the Olympic Heroes Parade amazing.

“The crowd is unbelievable,” she said. “This is our first Olympic parade so we’re pretty excited about it.”

The Olympian said she also spotted her family amidst the rush.

“It’s pretty hard to miss them,” she said with the laugh. “Anytime my family can be a part of something like this it’s pretty exciting.”

Canadian beach volleyballer Josh Binstock’s family also came out to cheer him on at the parade. The athlete’s young cousins held up colourful posters they made at home for the occasion.

His father, Howard Binstock, said he thought the parade was a wonderful idea especially because of the throngs of kids lining the route.

“The athletes really deserve a lot of credit for the time, the dedication and the sacrifices they all make,” the Olympian’s father said.

“It’s great for kids to see that if you really have a dream and you work hard, you can accomplish anything you put your mind to.”

The Binstock family also attended the London Olympics.

“We had 15 family and friends that came out to support him and his partner Martin Reader,” he said. “We had a great time supporting the boys in their journey of making the Olympics and all of the accolades they received.”

The senior Binstock said one of his favourite parts of the London games was watching his son walk in the opening and closing ceremonies. He also enjoyed watching his son compete.

“Watching him play live in front of 15,000 people in the best venue in front of Buckingham Palace was a highlight,” he said. “You couldn’t ask for anything more dramatic and picturesque.”

Paralympic basketball gold medalist Tyler Miller had a very visible cheering section for the Parade of Heroes. (Zenaira Ali/Toronto Observer)

Canadian Paralympian Tyler Miller was first introduced to wheelchair basketball in 2007. Five years later, he’s wearing gold around his neck, and his friends could not stop smiling as they talked about his journey.

“I’ve known Tyler since kindergarten. Over the past five years he started playing wheelchair basketball and it’s pretty cool,” his buddy Nick Hansen said at the Olympic Heroes Parade. “It’s pretty amazing what happened this summer.”Hansen said he liked that Miller also had a lot of court time: “I’ve played with him before so just seeing him and hearing the commentary was fun,” he said.

Hansen’s wife, Hayley Hansen, said watching Miller win gold made her teary-eyed.

“Seeing them put a gold medal around his neck and saying he was a gold medal winner was pretty amazing,” she said.